attitude


Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

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As we have all learned by now, life is one continuous series of decisions. We must decide when to rise and when to sleep, when to fast and when to eat, when to work and when to play, and when love and when to fight. Oops, left out when to sow and when to reap. Turn, turn, turn.

I must admit when I was younger my decisions were much more instinctual and reactive, in other words, I typically chose the course of action that seemed most expedient and  rewarding for the moment. At this stage of life, I try to be more reflective and make decisions, even the small ones, based upon a more thorough analysis of each situation. But realizing most of my daily decisions are still made in the moment, I’ve come to better understand the controlling mechanism for the entire process is based upon my attitude.

Given the time, I’ve tried to develop a more thoughtful inner-dialogue that poses questions such as: Am I making this decision for the right reasons? Is it best for me? How will it affect others? Is it the most positive decision I can make?

I’m frequently surprised how positive and calming this process can be. For instance, on a recent travel adventure with my wife Trisha, we were at Heathrow in London trying to make a flight to Stockholm, Sweden. Everything was going normally until we got to security. Trisha went through one line and I went through another. I quickly realized the woman in front of me was someone I’d seen at the ticket counter who had been warned about the number of carry-on items she had with her.

Well, despite the warnings, the large signs, and the loud verbal announcements, she was now being questioned by the one security officer for our line. I had one bin with my camera, she had five large bins. When asked if she had any liquids she responded “no.” The first bag in her first bin was opened and out came very large perfume bottles and an assortment of other similar items. Needless to say, the security officer had to open every bag and confiscate the restricted materials despite her loud protests. When I finally got my camera I ran through Heathrow (quite a long run), and as I arrived at the gate I saw my wife standing alone as our plane was being pushed out away from the jetway. Grrrrr!

O. K., so we had to wait three hours for the next flight, how bad could it be? We browsed some of the shops and then decided to get some food and settle in for the rest of the wait. Once seated, who do you think walked up and sat facing me just a few feet away? Yep, Ms. Five Bins who caused us to miss our flight. My inner dialogue was working overtime and Trisha was loving every minute of watching me squirm. Would I do what my instincts wanted to do which was tell her how inconsiderate she was and that she was the reason we missed our flight? I realized my only reason for that course of action would be to vent my anger and I also knew I would be inflicting some hurtful feelings on her. I admit it was difficult at first, but then decided the end result wasn’t worth it. I was in London vacationing with my wife eating good food and having a great time. Being negative and verbally assaulting this woman would have been a waste of my time, emotions, and energy. I mentally tied up my negative emotions and let them float away. As it turned out, that afternoon flight was a great time sitting and chatting with some terrific people we met boarding the plane. We would not have met them had we made the first flight. The life lesson was reinforced.

Trisha and John Parker Sweden's Parliament Stockholm

Trisha and John Parker
Sweden’s Parliament
Stockholm

 

In thinking about attitude, I always remember a former colleague of mine, the educator, best-selling author, and terrific human being Leo Bascaglia. Leo’s attitude was one of loving everyone any way he could. Rather than cut someone off in traffic, Leo would smile and wave them into his lane. He said his attitude even made some a little afraid and suspicious to trust because it was often outside the norm. He once spoke at a committee luncheon I co-chaired and a few minutes into his talk he stopped, walked into the middle of the room, leaned forward towards a woman sitting there and said, “Your smile devastates me.” Leo later told me he never wanted to miss an opportunity to compliment someone. The woman almost fell out of her chair.

Let me share one of my favorite quotes about attitude.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
― Charles R. Swindoll

 

Trisha’s Dishes

Trisha Parker

Trisha Parker

As I have often mentioned, my wife Trisha is a fantastic chef. Yesterday she made some cookies based on a new recipe she developed. I suggest you go to our website http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com and click on “Trisha’s Dishes.” You won’t be sorry and I’ll bet you can’t eat just one.

 

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Getting Better Every Day

Trisha Parker

Trisha Parker

Growing older, I’m sure most of us have heard the suggestion that one of our goals as we make our way through the trials and tribulations of life, is to try to become a better person each day? To be loving and respectful of others.

I’ve always considered myself a very fortunate person because I had parents who not only talked about the virtues of being loving and being respectful of others, but also lived that example. I’m also fortunate because I married a woman who lives according to the same principles.

This week, filled with tension and worry, I was witness to a real-life example of selfless behavior. My wife Trisha had surgery on Tuesday. She was scheduled for an early procedure that required us to rise at 4:00, get ready, drive an hour to the hospital, and check in at 5:45. We were right on schedule and she was taken to pre-op along with about 10 others. I was allowed to join her once the IV’s were in place and she was ready to go for a 7:45 procedure. As the time neared, there was a bit of commotion as a number of doctors gathered and then exited toward the operating rooms as a group. After a few minutes we were told there was an emergency and my wife’s surgery had been delayed. That was an understatement.

As we watched the other patients being rolled into surgery, we were told the operating room scheduled for my wife was being used for the emergency patient. As I sat next to her, experiencing the normal tension such a situation brings about, we waited for more than five and a half hours. Finally, my wife’s anesthesiologist came in to begin the final preparation. Now, I’m not sure how most people would have reacted, but let me tell you what transpired. After asking some mandatory questions, the doctor said, “We are very sorry we kept you waiting for so long.” My wife responded, “Were you able to save the person’s life?” The doctor, taken a bit by surprise said, “Why yes, it took a while, but we were able to save the patient’s life.” My wife said, “I’m very happy to be a part of that, let’s go.”

When I told my medical friends about this, they said not all patients would have reacted in such a positive manner. As I said, I’m a lucky man to have examples of selflessness like this on a daily basis. I’m very proud.

By the way, her surgery went well and she is recovering nicely.

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Joe Biden: Behind the Scenes

As we get older, we are all going to have events in our lives that truly test us as human beings. While both my wife Trisha and I try our best to stay positive, losing loved ones and dealing with illness and injuries certainly presents some serious challenges. In just the last month, I’ve had surgery, my best friend passed away, and recently my wife found out she will have to have some surgery in the next couple of weeks.

None of these events are uncommon for seniors, but when they happen to you, they become the most important things in the world.  So, how do we maintain our sanity during such troubling times? Fortunately for me, I recently witnessed the State of the Union address by President Obama. It was  incredibly boring as most of them are, but it was our indomitable Vice President Joe Biden that provided some much-needed humor.

I may have taken some liberties with my interpretation of events, but it’s all in good fun. Here’s behind the scenes with good ‘ol Joe.

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Retired-Life Joys and Challenges – 2013

Here we are nearing the end of another year. They really do seem to go by faster each year don’t they? Taking a moment to reflect, this year was probably typical. But that doesn’t mean it was uneventful.

As seniors, our challenges are pretty self-evident. Physically, we have begun to slow down, probably gotten a bit weaker, and somehow transformed into the grandparents we used to know. The good news for most of us, our mobility can be improved and maintained with exercise. I am still shocked by research that found 80% of seniors don’t get any regular exercise. Of course, there are natural injuries and illnesses that come into play, but the fact is most seniors lose most of their mobility due to their sedentary lifestyle. It’s a challenge we really need to take very seriously.

Emotionally, being a senior certainly has its share of challenges. Personally, I’ve never had a year in which I’ve lost more family members and friends. Its gut wrenching and you never really get over it. When I think of these wonderful and influential people in my life, it takes my breath away. All we can do is honor them by remembering the contributions they have made to our lives and be thankful for knowing them. Losing each one is the price paid for the honor and privilege of having them in our lives. In addition, most of us have family members or friends with serious health issues. Being supportive just doesn’t feel like it’s enough, but it’s often all we can do. Isn’t that what we would we want? Being there for the people we love is the essence of relationships and life itself.

The joys of being a senior are most frequently not appreciated. You have to get past so many of your fellow travelers with their wonderful sayings such as, “Getting old is hell.” Well, getting old is not always a walk in the park, but neither was becoming a young teenager, or a young adult. After being discharged from the military, I had no money, was back in school, working nights at a gas station, and had a wife and baby in a three room apartment above a garage. I would not want to go back to that time. Research tells us that seniors are the most content and positive of all age groups. Young adults fare the worst and have the most cases of depression and suicide. Maybe we are less anxious because we’ve reached that stage of life when we can say and do most anything we choose without worrying as much about the consequences.

The bottom line is life, no matter what our age, is what we make of it. It’s how we react to each and every situation, sling and arrow. If you’re a grumpy old man or lady, it’s a pretty sure bet you’ve always been that way. I’ve always enjoyed the story about the baseball rookie in spring camp who approached the great hitter Ted Williams seeking advice and said, “I just can’t hit a curve ball.” Williams replied, “Don’t swing at it.” When life throws us a curve, we can swing, cuss, and fume at our misfortune, or we can simply appreciate our opportunity to be at the plate.

My wife Trisha and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Trisha and John Parker

Trisha and John Parker

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anxiety

Managing Senior Stress

 

     As a senior, one of the things I most looked forward to in my retired life was getting away from stress. While most of my friends and colleagues always said they considered me to be calm and easy-going, inwardly I was always very driven, highly motivated, and somewhat of a classic Type A person.

    

     Of course, becoming a senior and/or retiring, especially in this day and age, does not magically remove one’s stress. In fact, our current culture seems to have evolved into one that creates and promotes stress on a daily basis. How many times a day do we hear ominous sounds emanate from our radios and televisions just prior to hearing words like “news alert” or “news update?”  Is it a nuclear attack or is a tsunami headed our way? No. Usually it’s a story about some overpaid baseball player or Anthony Wiener has shared more pictures of his private parts. Our politicians and media seem to have conspired to keep us in a state of constant unrest. The truth is there is plenty of stress for seniors without any additional stress factors being artificially created.

    

     Because on average we now live longer, we have to contend with more health issues than ever before. The economy and other societal changes have also served up a large portion of stress. Concern over the possibility of outliving our financial resources is also a stress factor for seniors.Added to the list is the fact the economy has not provided the best opportunities for young people, which in turn has created a myriad of family issues ranging from joblessness to high rates of divorce. More than previous generations, parents and grandparents are often put in the position of having to cope with a range of these stressful family and financial issues.

    

     Having researched the topic of stress and its impact for many years, I’ve collected a list of what I consider to be the best possible remedies for managing senior stress. They won’t solve the causes of stress such as economic concerns or difficult family issues, but they can potentially help individuals manage the stress such problems create. Rather than the sleeping pills and alcohol  many seniors seem to rely on, consider these stress management suggestions and techniques:

Regular Exercise – A routine of regular exercise can not only help to make you more healthy, it can provide both mental and physical relief from stress.

Stay Positive – Do everything within your power to maintain a positive attitude toward life and those around you.

Spend Time With Positive People – The world is filled with whiners and complainers, but there are also those who continue to have a positive outlook on life.

Spend Time With Those Who Deserve It – Life is too short, especially as a senior, to spend a minute with someone who doesn’t respect or value you.

Keep Life Lighthearted – While society and the media seem to want us to live in a state of constant crisis, try to view life through a prism of lightheartedness.

Become Solution Oriented – One of my life’s greatest blessings is being married to a woman who doesn’t agonize over problems, but views every problem as a situation to be managed by finding a solution.

Explore Your Faith – One of my best friends and co-author of a book we wrote together spent years without exploring her faith. Once she did, she changed her life and even returned to school earning another Ph.D. This one was in religion.

Breathe – As a former consultant, some of my best results working with clients involved the simple act of getting them to calm down through slow breathing when stressed.

Look Good, Feel Good – My late parents, while I was growing up and later in life when they lived in our home, and my wife always put forward this philosophy. While none of them ever walked around the house in formal attire, all of them always maintained a state of good grooming and dressed in fresh clean clothes. All I can say is “it works.”

Let Music Relax You – Very few things can transform your mood and general well-being as listening to some of your favorite music.

Compliment Others – Not only will this make you feel good, it will make someone’s day and will most likely provide you some good karma.

Find Some Quiet Time – This can be used for meditation, prayer, positive affirmations, or simple relaxation. Once, while teaching at Pepperdine University in Malibu, I walked into my evening class and several students appeared concerned. Apparently, on their way to class they saw me standing alone and gazing into the distance. When they expressed their concern I told them I was simply enjoying the sunset over the Pacific.

Turn Off The News – Whether it’s for an hour or a couple of days, get away from the news. I know people who will follow a tragic story for days. If you can help the people in the story, do so, but don’t constantly involve yourself in the stress.

Create a Stress-Free Environment – I’m smiling as I write this because certain events had served to create a complete mess in my walk-in closet recently. Feeling very stressed each time I slid open the door, just yesterday I’d had enough and launched a two-day cleanup and reorganization. Getting organized, simplifying, and fixing the things that need fixing in your environment is a sure way to reduce stress.

Keep Life Simple – As you probably did in business, each morning create a simple to-do list. Give yourself ample time to complete your tasks and if you don’t finish something, put it at the top of tomorrow’s list. Another suggestion is to not over-book your schedule. You do not have to accept every invitation or make time for everyone you know. It’s your life and your schedule.

Pursue Your Love Life – The research is very clear that seniors who continue to engage in sexual activity live longer and healthier lives.

Look For The Good In Everyone and Everything – Increasingly, we seem to live in a culture where everyone is a critic on almost every subject. To stay positive, it’s important we look for the good.

Forgive – As seniors, almost all of us have had incidents and persons in our lives that have created tension and regrets. In some cases these situations may be very serious and irreparable. The fact is, you don’t have to forgive and make up with someone who has caused you pain, but if you can forgive them in your heart and move on, you will relieve a great deal of built up stress.

Don’t Worry – As the song says, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Worry never prevented or solved anything, it only serves to create more stress. 

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Retired-Life New Year’s Suggestion

We’ve made it to the end of one year and about to set sail into a new one. We should look to this new year with enthusiasm and a positive attitude. While it’s great to have memories of our past, it’s better yet to have aspirations, goals, and dreams for the future. Rather than making new year’s resolutions, I suggest everyone  take a moment and write down three things they would like to accomplish this year. Get crazy. Is there someone you would like to meet, contact, or reconnect with. Is there some place you would like to visit, far away or close by. Is there a goal you didn’t achieve long ago? Get out there and do it. Do you have lots of “stuff” taking up space somewhere? Simplify your life and give it to someone who can use it. It might change their life and will make you feel great.  

There are no wrong answers here. These things don’t have to be philanthropic in nature. Do something great and fun for you. Is there a performer you’ve always wanted to see or meet. Is there an event you’ve always wanted to attend. As they say at Nike, “Just do it! Of course, there are always a million reasons not to do something. But this is not the dress rehearsal, it’s your life. Let me know what you decided to do in 2012. Happy New Year.   

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WOW! What a crazy wonderful week.

In the past I’ve written a lot about the power of a positive attitude and the many benefits it can have on our lives. Especially as seniors. It really worked for us this week.

 

As I mentioned in my last blog, my father passed away one year ago. An anniversary of this type can be very depressing and downright difficult while marking the passing of a loved one. We decided we would remember Dad, but in his honor, would also try to have fun. First, we invited some of my wife’s family, her aunt Pat and Uncle Noel, to visit for the week. We had a great time showing them our part of the country and even had a great night out with them and good friends.

 

Then, as the week progressed, several family members who were planning to gather at our home over the weekend began to report very strange and amusing happenings. Typical day-to-day problems or issues  were being miraculously and quickly resolved. In my case, I was trimming a large palm tree high over head. At one point my cutting blade got loose and when I checked it, the nut was missing from the main bolt holding it together. It was a very hot day and I searched high and low for that nut. Finally, I gave up and looked in my garage for a nut that might fit. Finding one, I tried to screw it on the bolt but it became obvious it wouldn’t fit. After several minutes sweating in the hot sun trying to make it work, I looked up to the heavens. As I did, the nut slipped from my hand, bounced on the pavement, rolled all around my driveway, and came to rest – – – right next to the original nut. I looked up and said, “Thanks Dad.” With several of these occurences, our family began to laugh and suggest Dad was orchestrating a celebratory week of remembrance.

 

I know what you are probably saying right now, but hold on. As I walked into the house mid-week, my phone was ringing. It was a man claiming to be a news producer for CBS in Los Angeles. He was putting a segment together about the Los Angeles Dodgers and had come across the story of my father throwing out the ceremonial first pitch almost two years ago. He asked if he could interview me about my father and his being a Dodger fan given the problems the Dodger ownership have been having. I agreed, and after speaking with him, he suggested my wife Trisha and I come to Los Angeles and attend the Sunday Dodger game. He said he would conduct an interview and have his camerman with him. We thought, what a great way to remember Dad and agreed to do it. We also called 5-year-old grandson Jack who lives outside L. A. and invited him to go with us. 

 

Understand, at the time we agreed, Trisha’s aunt and uncle needed to be at the San Francisco airport, an hour and a half drive from our home for a late morning flight. We also needed to meet family at the cemetery in the early afternoon that was another hour and a half from our home. Did I mention I needed to take my mother for lab work at the hospital and be there by 7:30 in the morning before the day even began.

 

It gets better. We then hosted a family dinner for thirteen people at our home and twelve of them spent the night. One of our sons, part of the “planning committee” had forgotten to mention that little detail. Oh well, we all had a great time and enjoyed every minute. It did mean breakfast for twelve in the morning and everyone pitched in. I was in charge of pancakes. After cleanup and swimming, it was now time for lunch. My wife smiled through it all, and it was great fun.

 

We then had to think about getting to L. A., so we called friends who live about half way and invited ourselves for the night. They not only welcomed us but prepared an incredible dinner and dessert. A super night with friends. Back on the road at 7:00 a. m., picked up Jack at Sunday school, and headed for Dodger stadium. Once there we met the producer, a very nice young man, and gave him an on-camera interview. The game was great, and we got to visit our son Michael who works for Fox Sports Net who was working the game.

 

By the time we got Jack home and fought the construction zones on Hwy 5, we got back just before midnight. What a week. But we remembered Dad in a style of family, friends, and fun he would have loved.

 

I should mention, we were shocked to learn it was not a local CBS story. The young man turned out to be a producer for the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. Dad’s story may be on as early as tonight, June 27. Crazy.

 

Keep it positive.

 

 

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